Highmark-Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania merger approved

Highmark, Inc., said on Monday that it has completed a merger with Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) after gaining approval from the state's insurance agency.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will ensure that current clients' benefits will remain unchanged for the time being. The company said that over time, enhancements will be made to better serve clients.

"This merger is a natural progression of the successful business relationship that Highmark and BCNEPA have maintained for decades to best serve the health care needs of the residents of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania," Highmark Health Plan President Deborah Rice-Johnson said. "We anticipate continued success in the region and look forward to providing our members with improved quality, accessibility and affordability of health care."

In the agreement, Highmark has promised that it would keep staffing levels and operations at current levels and create an advisory board to discuss issues relating to the region; the board will include former BCNEPA members.

Highmark said the merger will enable the insurer to fund infrastructure improvements necessary for it to comply with governmental requirements and to provide new services.

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